Who: Arlet, Rori, Akanyth, Inaskashath
When: Month 4, 203 AT
Where: Lake Shore, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Arlet is Fort’s new Weyrleader.

Summer has finally eased its way to an end at Honshu, bringing with it warm breezes, and lazy days. Inaskashath has been enjoying sunbathing in the late afternoon down by the lake. Today she’s been there for some hours already, her hide gleaning with fresh oil. Inaskashath has never been prone to preening in public, bothered enough by her scars to feel their weight when others gaze upon her. Today, however, she’s enjoying the scent of lavender and mint to the oils Rori has rubbed into her and the gleam of her hide in the mid-afternoon sun is enough to make even the young gold feel comfortable to allow others to admire her. Rori has herself tucked in the shade with a large brimmed hat, her pale skin never one to handle too much summer sun. She’s got a book in her lap and seems to be enjoying the solitude presented to her.

Akanyth and Rori have been absent from Honshu for nearly a full day when the brown finally appears in the skies over the Weyrhold and dives down for a neat landing just about as close to the Weyrlord and Lady’s ledge as he dares. He stays there, straps still in place, as a pale Arlet goes in search of one or the other – or both – of the Weyrhold’s leaders, her absence from the outside world one that lasts a good hour and more. She looks no better when she emerges and clambers up straps for the pair to head for their own ledge and, in Arlet’s case, a bath and a change of clothing, while Akanyth observes Inaskashath with an oddly clinical and cool distance. By the time Arlet reaches Rori and her patch of shade, she’s presentable, if still pale and somewhat jittery. “Hi. Um… we need to… talk.”

Inaskashath is curious as to where Akanyth has gone – and her mental tendrils reach towards him to prod at his mind. A sharp //poke//! << And? >> she asks him, unable to resist the urge to spread a wing and let its gleaming wingsale spread out to reflect in the sunshine. << Where have you been? >> Rori isn’t in the mood to preen as much as her gold, her head tips up for her to offer Arlet a bright smile that fades into concern as she notices her energy. “What’s happened?” she skips right past any hellos, “Sit down. You look unwell.” She shifts on her blanket, patting the space beside her to encourage Arlet to settle beside her. She pulls off her sunhat and sets it aside, tendrils of her reddish-blonde hair falling along her sweaty forehead.

Maybe it isn’t his fault. Maybe it is. Maybe he’s just lingering in the thrall of another when Akanyth answers Inaskashath with a distant cawing and the pummelling of black wings deliberately designed to irritate. << Don’t you mean to ask where I am going? >> Arlet shoots him a long look, head tilted as she tries to discern just how much he’s let on before she can say her piece, and it’s the threat of him telling before she can that makes her sit down all the more quickly, folding her hands together in her lap. “…One of Fort’s juniors rose yesterday afternoon… her rider is the new Weyrwoman,” she manages to rasp out, still trying to get her thoughts in order as she goes. “Akanyth chased. He… He caught.” She swallows hard, her hands white knuckled and twisted together now. “It means that… that I’m Fort’s Weyrleader. A-And I have to go live there. Try not to make things there worse.”

Inaskashath throws up her axes to shield herself from those black wings, her hiss of fury a physical snarl as she lifts herself up from the beach. It’s Rori’s emotions that channel through her as she launches herself into the sky, shrieking defiance and anger at Akanyth. << Good riddance! >> she slams her axe between them, severing their mental ties so she can go and sulk in the company of Roreliuth. Rori stares at Arlet, her eyes wide and brows lifted high as she blinks in a static movement as the words sink into her. “What?” she rasps out, leaning forward to grasp hold of Arlet’s hand. “That’s impossible. They don’t let outsiders in during a leadership flight. N-n-not from what I’ve learned,” she’s stuttering over her words, her fingers vice like as she clings to Arlet. “I didn’t even think a brownrider, a-a-, woman, //could// be a Weyrleader!” Her other hand lifts to slam a palm against her forehead as Inaskashath’s fury channels into her, causing Rori to gasp out. “You can’t go.”

If dragons can smirk, that’s exactly what Akanyth does, a low rumble emanating from his throat as the facets of his gaze briefly whirl through the autumnal shades of the spectrum, unable to untangle his pride in his victory from how Inaskashath’s reaction makes him feel. “It was an open flight,” Arlet states, trying to keep her voice steady. “The Weyrwoman,” whose name she can’t yet bring herself to use, “felt that it had to be, to cast off any suggestion of Fort continuing as it is. Unless… Maybe //until// they oust me, she wants me to try. There’s no doubting Akanyth won.” She flinches. “Much as the idea of offspring disgusts him.” She hangs her head, staring uselessly down at her knees. “…I have to go. I don’t //want// to. But I… Akanyth got us into this. I can’t abandon my duty… I was raised by a weyrwoman; I know something of how a Weyr should run. I need to try.”

Rori’s hands have the tremor that she can’t hide as she holds onto Arlet’s hand. She can’t help the tears that spring up and bubble over. “This is so stupid,” she tells Arlet, removing her hand to rub her fingers shakily at her eyes. “I don’t know why I’m crying. I’m not trying to cry. You’ll be a great Weyrleader,” she gulps, sniffling, “I’m happy for you. Of course you have to do your mother proud.” She keeps wiping at her eyes and then she turns to wrap her arms around Arlet and hug herself against the brownrider’s chest. Her tears rub into fabric as she finds balance with her emotions. “We can visit,” she murmurs, “we can visit, can’t we?” A pause, as another reality dawns on her, “Unless… you’re going to try… and be partners.” Not that they have ever done more than simple things together. Another reality dawns on her, drawn outward by the rawness of her and Inaskashath’s emotions. “You won’t be able to try at Inaskashath’s maiden flight now.”

Arlet presses her eyes shut and in an effort not to let any tears of her own escape, Rori held to her with a fierceness that turns tighter and possessive when she mentions Inaskashath’s flight, only for the reality of the situation to demand that she not fight another one of the myriad of things suddenly beyond her control. “…I… can be there for you, if you want. I don’t see how they could argue with that. But Akanyth…” She shakes her head, confirming what they all already know, even if the brown is too tangled up in his new bond with another queen to feel the full extent of what he’s done. “I don’t want to be anything but her Weyrleader, though she…” Arlet can’t help but blush, no matter how many flights she’s been through, “she said I’m welcome in her and her weyrmate’s bed. Things after the flight are still a bit… muddled…” Again, she shakes her head. “I don’t intend on joining them. I want you to visit.”

Rori’s voice is bleak, her face still pressed against Arlet’s chest. “No, no. It wouldn’t be right. To have Fort’s Weyrleader be there for me during the maidenflight. I don’t think I’d have let you do it had Akanyth been able to chase. Other people don’t get choices…, I shouldn’t either.” She sniffles again, trying to control herself, and at least her shaking sobs have subsided. Spent with emotion, she relaxes in Arlet’s arms, not wanting to move from their closeness. “If that is what you want with them, Arlet, you should do what is best for you.” She tries to find some sort of brightness, some trickle of positivity. “You can visit me and I’ll cook for you. I’m sure Fortian food isn’t anything compared to Honshu’s.” And the unsaid – her own cooking. “We can visit,” she agrees, “Unless… have you spoken to the Aerishani and O’rlen? What did they say?” She pulls back enough to set her red-rimmed eyes on Arlet’s face.

The news that Rori wouldn’t have let herself choose her even if Akanyth had been able to try to fly Inaskashath stings enough that Arlet tenses, doubt beginning to creep into pale blue eyes when she finally makes herself open them. “…If that’s what you want,” is all she finds herself able to offer, nothing there to conceal how weakly she presents that agreement. It’s enough that she sidesteps the prospect of spending any time in anyone else’s bed and focuses on what Honshu’s leaders have told her. “Aerishani said that of course I have to go, but she doesn’t want me to feel like I’m being kicked out. I can visit whenever I want, but Akanyth now has to check in with Amorenth and Roreliuth, since not a lot of people here are going to like having one of Fort’s leaders around.” And as for Fort: “You can visit whenever you want. …I get to write some of the rules now, don’t I? As long as Inaskashath doesn’t upset any of Fort’s queens, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be there.”

Rori looks at Arlet, noticing the tension she’s created and grasping on to how her words would be interpreted. She grabs for Arlet’s hand, fingers tight as she squeezes again and her face turns even more serious. “I don’t want our time to be when Inaskashath is in the sky. You know I’m a virgin,” she blushes at the forthrightness of her words, “and I don’t know… I haven’t known, when I wanted to be ready. In my head, I pictured us having a nice dinner one night, and we’d get to kissing, and it’d be decided for me. That you and me would be together.” Her voice is hushed as her face continues to redden. “Maybe that was a foolish, a childish way, to think of it. I want //you//, Arlet. I don’t want to have you when Inaskashath is in the skies. I want you for //me//.” She heaves a sigh and hangs her head, releasing Arlet’s hand so she can press her palms against her eyes. “I’m making this all about me. I’m horrible and selfish,” she heaves a breath and drops her hands, looking straight at Arlet. “Take me to my weyr,” she tells her, eyes almost feverish with the decision she’s making.

Arlet gives Rori her hand without hesitation, yet she still can’t quite look directly at her, too afraid of what she might read in her eyes if she were to lift her gaze to meet hers. “…I didn’t want you to feel that… I wanted… before you were ready,” she replies. “I didn’t want you to have regrets– I //don’t// want you to have regrets about it, whether it’s me or someone else. If riders can get married and Aerishani can close her door to anyone but her husband, then I don’t see why you should have to do anything you don’t want to when Inaskashath rises.” And that extends to when Rori looks right up at her and tells her what to do, for she reaches out to gently grasp her wrists and hold her hands still. “…I’m not going to take you to bed because my idiot brown made decisions for me and you feel you ought to before I have to go,” she insists. “That’s no better than if it were because of Inaskashath.” Grazing her thumbs over the inside of her wrists, she murmurs, “How about… I go to Fort… I sort out my weyr and I make sure there’s a good kitchen for you… and if you still want to, you can visit and we can…”

Tears spring up in Rori’s eyes again, her throat bobbing as her lips twist to prevent her from crying out. “I’m going to miss you so much,” she blurts, lurching forward to hug herself to Arlet’s chest again. She stays there, hugging tightly to Arlet, until any show of sadness has been washed away from her features. It’s hard to hide the redness of her nose and eyes when she finally pulls back, but she’s managed to pull some dignity to her as she lifts her hands up to press her palms against Arlet’s cheeks. “I don’t deserve you,” she tells her, tipping forward to kiss Arlet chastely. “Akanyth won and you’ll make a fine Weyrleader. You came ahead to do something, Arlet. This may be it.” She moves back enough to stand without tripping over Arlet, her hand reaching out for the brownrider’s. “Let me go and cook you something to eat now and make you tea. There’s no sense in my panic,” her cadence of tone sounds different, something of Inaskashath’s influence hardening her spine against the emotions she’s allowed to show. “You can be mine for however long you chose, Arlet. I chose you.”

Mute, Arlet folds her arms back around Rori and holds on tightly, ducking her head down to rest it atop hers. Silence is the best of the options available to her, lest she let show her own fears of being parted from her and the enormity of the task that awaits her as one of Fort’s new leaders. When Rori speaks of a supposed purpose to her leap forward in time, she almost cracks and has to briefly look up at the sky to maintain her composure. “I’m not sure this is quite what I had in mind,” she has to admit, unable to say anything further without risking a surrender to tears. It leaves her to answer Rori with a kiss much less chaste than the one she was given only moments ago, then follow her to her weyr and let her take charge. She doesn’t part from her until the sun rises, sleeping curled around her until light spills over Honshu and demands that she return to what is now her new home. Trying not to wake Rori, she slips from the goldrider’s bed, leaving a note behind in the space where she once was. Not an hour later, she and Akanyth are gone from Honshu, not having had much to pack and take with them, note left to be unfolded as the rest of the Weyrhold wakes. It’s not much and it may not make things any better, but ‘I love you’ is the best that she can leave her with.

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